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The Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) online

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regeneration, we shall cautiously survey the whole process as devel-
oped by the commissioned teachers of the deep counsels of the only
true God.

That certain things, parts of this great process, may be well un-
derstood, certain terms which we are wont to use to represent them,
must be well defined, and accurately apprehended. These terms are
Fact, Testimony, Faith, Repentance, Reformation, Bath of Regeneror
Hon, New Birth, Renexcing of the Holy Spirit, Neivness of Life.

"All things are of God" in the regeneration of man, is our motto;
because our Apostle affirmed this as a cardinal truth. He is the au-
thor of the facts, and of the testimony which declares them; and be-
ing the author of these, he ia the author of all the effects produced by
these facts. The Christian is a new creation, of which God is the
Creator, The change of heart and of character, which constitute moral
regeneration, is the legitimate impression of the facts, or things which
God has wrought. The facts constitute the moral seal which stamps
the image of God upon man. In the natural order we must place them
first, and therefore we must first define the term.


Fact means something done. The term deed, so common in the
reign of James the First, is equivalent to our term fact. Truth and
fact, though often confounded, are not the same. All facts are truths,
but all truths are not facts. That God exists, is a truth, but not a
fact; that he created the heavens and the earth, is a fact and a truth.
That Paul was the Apostle of the Gentiles, is a truth, but not a fact;
and that he preached Christ to the Gentiles, is both a fact and a truth.
The simple agreement of the terms of any proposition with the sub-
ject of that proposition, or the representation of any thing as it
exists, is a truth. But something must be done, acted, or effected,
before we have a fact. There are many things in religion, morals,
politics, and general science, which are not facts; but these are all
but the correspondence of words and ideas with the things of which
they treat.

Facts have a power which simple truth has not; and, therefore,
we say, that facts are stubborn things. They are things, not words.
The power of any fact, is the meaning; and therefore the measure of
its power is the magnitude of its import. All moral facts have a
moral meaning; and those are properly called moral facts, which
either exhibit, develope, or form moral character. All those facts,
or works of God, which are purely physical, exhibit what have been
commonly called his natural or physical perfections; and all those
facts, or works of God, which are purely moral, exhibit his moral
character. It so happens, however, that all his works, when properly


understood, exhibit both his physical and moral character, when viewed
in all their proper relations. Thus the deluge exhibited his power,
his justice, and his truth; and, therefore, displayed both his physical
and moral grandeur. The turning of water into wine, apart from its
design, is purely a demonstration of physical power; but when its
design is apprehended, it has a moral force equal to its physical

The work of Redemption is a system of works, or deeds, on the
part of heaven, which constitute the most splendid series of moral
facts which man or angel ever saw. And they are the proof, the argu-
ment, or the demonstration, of that regenerating proposition which
presents God and love as two names for one idea.

When these facts are understood, or brought into immediate con-
tact with the mind of man, as a moral seal or archetype, they delineate
the image of God upon the human soul. All the means of grace
are, therefore, only the means of impressing this seal upon the heart ;
of bringing these moral facts to make their full impression on the
soul of man. Testimony and faiih are but the channel through whicli
these facts, or the hand of God, draws his image on the heart and
character of man. If then the fact and the testimony are both the
gift of God, we may well say that faith and eternal life are also the
gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

To enumerate the gospel facts, would be to narrate all that is
recorded of the sayings and doings of Jesus Christ, from his birth to
his coronation in the heavens. They are, however, concentrated in
a few prominent ones, which group together all the love of God in
the gift of his Son. rie died for our sins, He was buried in our grave.
He rose from the dead for our justification, and is ascended to the
skies to prepare mansions for his disciples, comprehend the whole, or
are the heads to the chapters which narrate the love of God, and dis-
play I'.is moral niajrsty and glory to our view.

These moral facts unfold all the moral grandeur of Jehovah, and
make Jesus the effulgence of his glory, the express image of his sub-
stance. These are the moral seal which testimony conveys to the
understanding, and faith brings to the heart of sinners, by which God
creates them anew, and forms them for his glory. It is the Spirit
which bears witness — the Spirit of God and of Christ which gives
the testimony, and confirms it in the disciples. But let us next pro-
ceed to testimony.


The Romans, from whom we have borrowed much of our language^
called the witness the testis. The declaration of this testis is still
called testimony. In reference to the material system around us. to
all objects and matters of sense, the eye, the ear, the smell, the taste,


the feeling, are the five witnesses. What we call the evidence ot
sense, is, therefore, the testimony of these witnesses, which constitute
the five avenues to the human mind from the kingdom of nature.
They are figuratively called witnesses, and their evidence, testimony.
But the report or declaration of intelligent beings, such as God,
angels, and men, constitute what is properly and literally called

As light reflected from any material object upon the eye brings
that object into contact with the eye, or enables the object to make
its image on the eye, so testimony concerning any fact, brings that
fact into contact with the mind, and enables it to impress itself, or
to form its image upon the intellect, or mind of man. Now, be it
observed, that as by our five external senses we acquire all informa-
tion of the objects of sense around us, so by testimony, human or
divine, we receive all our information upon all facts which are not
the objects of the immediate exercise of our five senses upon the things
around us.

To appreciate the full value of testimony In the divine work of
regeneration, we have only to reflect, that all the moral facts whicn
can form moral character, after the divine standard, or which can effect
a moral or religious change in man, are found in the testimony of
God; and that no fact can operate at all where it is not present, or
where it is not known. The love of God in the death of the Messiah
never drew a tear of gratitude or joy from any eye, or excited a grate-
ful emotion in any heart among the nations of our race to whom the
testimony never came. No fact in the history of six thousand years,
no work of God in creation, providence, or redemption, has ever
influenced the heart of man or woman to whom it has not been tes-
tified. Testimony is, then, in regeneration, as necessary as the fact
of which it speaks.

The real value of anything, is the labor which it cost, and its
utility when acquired. If reason and justice arbitrated all questions
upon the value o,f property, the decision would be, that every article
is worth the amount of human labor which is necessary to obtain it;
and when obtained, it is again to be tried in the scales of utility.
Now as all the facts, and all the truth, which can renovate human
nature, are in the testimony of God; and as that testimony cost the
labor and the lives of the wisest and best that ever lived, that testi-
mony to us, is just as valuable as the facts which it records, and
the labors and the lives which it cost, and just as indispensable in the
process of regeneration, as were the labors and the lives of Prophets,
Apostles, and the Son of God.

History, or narrative, whether oral or written, is only another name
for testimony. When, then, we reflect how large a proportion of both



Testamenta is occupied in history, we may judge of how much import-
ance it is in the judgment of God. Prophecy also, being the history
of future facts, or a record of things to be done, belongs to the same
chapter of facts and record. Now if all past facts, and all future
facts, or all the history or testimony concerning them, was erased
from the volumes of God's inspiration, how small would the remainder
be! Tnese considerations, added together, only in part exhibit the
value and utility of testimony in the regeneration of mankind. But
its value will be still more evident when the proper import of the term
faith is fully set before us.


No testimony, no faith: for faith is only the belief of testimony,
or confidence in testimony as true. To believe without testimony, is
just as impossible as to see without light The measure, quality, and
power of faith are always found in the testimony believed.

Where testimony begins, faith begins; and where testimony ends,
faith ends. We believe Moses just as far as Moses speaks or writes:
and when Moses has recorded his last fact, or testified his last truth,
our faith in Moses terminates. His five books are, therefore, the
length and breadth, the height and depth, or in other words, the
measure of our faith in Moses. The quality or value of faith is found
in the quality or value of the testimony. The certainty of faith is
the certainty of testimony. If the testimony be valid and authorita-
tive, our faith is strong and operative. "If," says John, "we receive
the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater," stronger and
more worthy of credit. The value of a bank bill, is the amount of
the precious metals which it represents, and the indisputable evidence
of its genuineness; so the value of faith is the importance of the facts
which the testimony presents, and the assurance afforded that the
testimony is true. True, or unfeigned faith, may be contrasted with
feigned faith, but true faith is the belief of truth; for he that believes
a lie, believes in vain.

The power of faith is ali?o the power, or moral meaning of the tes-
timony, or of the facts which the testimony represents. If by faith
I am transported with joy, or overwhelmed in sorrow, that joy or sor-
row is in the facts contained in the testimony, or in the nature and
relation of those facts to me. If faith purifies the heart, works by
love, and overcomes the world, this power is in the facts believed. If
a father has more Joy in believing that a lost son has been found,
than in believing that a lost sheep has been brought home to his fold,
the reason of this greater joy is not in the nature of his faith, but in
the nature of the facts believed.


Here I am led to expatiate on a very popular and pernicious error
of modern times. That error is, that the nature, or power and saving
efficacy of faith, is not in the truth believed, but in the nature of our
faith, or in the manner of believing the truth. Hence ail that unmean-
ing jargon about the nature of faith, and all those disdainful sneers
at what is called "historic faith" — as if there could be any faith with-
out history, written or spoken. Who ever believed in Jesus Christ,
without hearing the history of him? ''How shall they believe in him
of whom they have not heard?" Faith never can be more than
the receiving of testimony as true, or the belief of testimony; and
if the testimony be written, it is called history — though it is as
much history when flowing from the tongue, as when flowing from the

Let it be again repeated, and remembered, that there is no other
manner of believing a fact, than receiving it as true. If it is not
received as true, it is not believed; and when it is believed, it is no
more than regarded as true. This being conceded, then it follows that
the efficacy of faith is always in the fact believed, or the object

received, and not in the nature or manner of believfiig.

" Paith was bewildered much by men who meant

To make it clear, so simple in itself,

A thoi'gbt so rudimental and so plain,

That none by comment could it plainer make.

All faith was one. In object, not in kind.

The difference lay. The faith that saved a soul,

And that which in the common truth believed,

In essence, were the same. Hear, then, what faith,

True, Christian faith, which brought salvation, was:

Belief in all that God revealed to men;

Observe, in all that God revealed to men.

In all he promised, threatened, commanded, said,

Without exception, and without a doubt."

— PoUok's Course of Time, Book viii., p. 189.

This holds universally in all the sensitive, intellectual, and moral
powers of man. All our pleasures and pains, all our joys and sorrows,
are the effects of the objects of sensation, reflection, faith, etc., appre-
hended or received, and not in the nature of the exercise of any power
or capacity with which we are endowed. We shall illustrate and con-
firm this assertion by an appeal to the experience of all.

Let us glance at all our sensitive powers. If on surveying with tho
eye a beautiful landscape, I am pleased, and on surveying a battle-
field strewed with the spoils of death, I am pained, is it in accord-
ance with truth to say, that the pleasure or the pain received was
occasioned by the nature of vision, or the mode of seeing? Was it
not the sight, the thing seen, the object of vision, which produced
the pleasure and the pain? The action of looking, or the mode of
seeing, was in both cases the same; but the things seen, or th«


objects of vision, were ditferent; — consequently, the effects produced
were different.

If on hearing the melody of the grove I am delighted, and on hear-
ing the peals of thunder breaking to pieces the cloud, dark with horror,
hanging over my head, 1 am terrified, ia the delight or the terror
to be ascribed to the manner or nature of hearing, or to the thing
heard? Is it not the thing heard, which produces the delight and
the terror?

If I am refreshed by the balmy fragrance of the opening bloom of
spring, or sickened by the fetid effluvia of putrid carcases, are these
effects to be ascribed to the peculiar nature or mode of smelling, or
to the thing smelt? Or when the honey or the gall come in contact
with my taste, is the sweet or the bitter to be regarded as the effect
of my manner of tasting, or to the object tasted? And when I touco
the ice. or the blazing torch, is the effect or feeling produced to be
imputed to the manner of feeling them, or to the thing felt? May
■we not, then, affirm that all the pleasures and pains of sense; all th«
effects of sensation, are the results, not of the manner in which our
five senses are exercised, but of the objects on which they are exer-
cised? It may be said, without in the least invalidating this conclu-
sion, that the more intimate the exercise of our senses is with the
things on which they are exercised, the stronger and more forcible
will be the impressions made; but still it is the object seen, heard,
smelt, tasted, or felt, which affects us.

Passing from the outward to the inward man, and on examining
the powers of intellection one by one, we shall find no exception to
the law which pervades all our sensitive powers. It is neither the
faculty of perception, nor the exercise of perception, nor the manner
of perception, but the thing perceived, that excites us to action: it is
not the exercise of reflection, but the thing reflected upon: it is not
memory, nor the exercise of recollection, but the thing remembered:
it is not imagination, but the thing imagined; it is not reason itself,
nor the exercise of reason, but the thing reasoned upon, which affords
pleasure or pain — which excites to action — which cheers, allures, con-
soles — which grieves, disquiets, or discommodes us.

Ascending to our volitions and our affections, we shall find the
same universality. In a word, it is not choosing, nor refusing; it is
not loving, hating, fearing, desiring, nor hoping; it is not the nature
of any power, faculty, or capacity of our nature, nor the simple
exercise of them, but the objects or things upon which they are exer-
cised, which give ua pleasure or pain; which induces us to action,, or
influences our behaviour. Faith, then, or the power of believing, must
be an anomalous thing; a power ski generis; an exception to the
laws under which every power, faculty, or capacity of man is placed,


unless its measure, quality, power, and efficacy, be in the things
believed, in the facts which are testified, in the objects on which
it terminates.

There is no connection of cause and effect more intimate; there is
no system of dependencies more closely linked; there is no arrange-
ment of things more natural or necessary, than the ideas represented
by the terms fact, testimony, faith, and feeling. The first is for the
last, and the two intermediates are made necessary by the force of
circumstances, as the means for the end. The fact, or the thing said
or done, produces the change in the frame of mind. The testimony,
or report of the thing said or done, is essential to belief; and belief
of it, is necessary to bring the thing said or done to the heart. The
change of heart is the end proposed in this part of the process of
regeneration; and we may see that the process on the part of heaven
is, thus far, natural and rational: or, in other words, consistent with
the constitution of our nature.


Repentance is usually defined '"sorrow for any thing past," and in
the religious vocabulary it is simply "sorrow for sin." This is one,
but it is only one of the natural effects of the belief of the testimony
of God. The gospel facts, testimony and faith, contemplate more
than this. But yet it is necessary that this point of faith should be
distinctly apprehended, especially in this age, when it occupies so
large a space in the systems of theology.

Repentance, in our current acceptation, is sorrow for sin; and cer-
tainly there is no man who believes the revealed facts found in the
testimony of God, who will not be sorry for his sins. But simple
sorrow for the past, is but a feeling of the heart which, unless it
excite to reformation, or the abandonment of sin, is of no more use
than the regrets of Judaa after he had sold his Master for fifteen
dollars. Repentance must, however, precede reformation: for unless
we are sorry for the past, and grieved with ourselves, we will not
think of a change of conduct Repentance is to reformation, what
motive is to action, or resolution to any undertaking. It was well tor
David to resolve to build the temple; and so it is well to form any
good design, but much better to execute it. To feel sorry for the poor
and the afflicted, and to resolve to assist and comfort them, is well,
but to go and do it is better: and, indeed, unless our sorrow for the
past terminates in reformation for the future, it is useless in the esti-
mation of heaven and earth; as useless as to say to the hungry, Be
filled; or to the naked. Be clothed.

Genuine repentance does not always issue in reformation. Judas
was sorrowful even to death, but could not reform. Many have been


so genuiuely sorry for their sins, as to become suicides. Speak we
of "a godly sorrow"'? ^^o; this is not to be expected from unconverted
and ungodly persons. Christians, Paul teaches, when they err may
repent with a godly sorrow; but this is not to be expected from the
unregenerate, or from those who have not reformed. It is not, then,
the genuineness of repentance that is to be appreciated, unless by
genuine repentance is meant more than simple sorrow for the past —
unless by genuine repentance is meant reformation. Yet without sin-
cere or unfeigned repentance, there can not be real or genuine

This leads us to observe, that the only unequivocal evidence of sin-
cere repentance, is the actual redress of the injury done; not only a
cessation from ihe sin, but a restitution for the sin, as far as restitu-
tion can possibly be made. No restitution, no repentance — provided
restititlion can he made. And may I be permitted to add, that with-
out repentance, and restitution %chen possible, there can be no

The preachers of repentance — of the necessity of repentance in
order to remission, ought to set this matter fairly and fully before
sinners. Do they represent repentance as sorrow for the past, and a
determination to reform? How then will the sinner know that he is
sorry for his sins against men, or how will the community know that
he has repented of such sins, unless full restitution be made? It is
impossible that either the sinner himself, or the community who know
his sins against men, can have any certain evidence that he is peni-
tent, unless by making all possible restitution.

Peccator wounded the reputation of his neighbor Hermas, and on
pnother occasion defrauded him of ten pounds. Some of the neighbor-
hood were apprized that he had done both. Peccator was converted
under the preaching of Paulinus, and on giving in a relation of his
sorrow for his sins, spoke of the depth of his convictions, and of his
abhorrence of his transgressions. He was received into the congre-
gation, and sat down with the faithful to commemorate the great sin
offering. Hermas and his neighbors were witnesses of all this. They
saw that Peccator was penitent, and much reformed in his behaviour;
but they could not believe him sincere, because that he had made no
restitution. They regarded him as either a hypocrite, or self-deceived;
because, having it in his power, he repaid not the ten pounds, nor
once contradicted the slanders he had propagated. Peccator, how-
ever, felt little enjoyment in his profession, and soon fell back into
his former habits. He became again penitent, and on examining the
giounds of his falling off, discovered that he had never cordially
turricd away from his sins. Overwhelmed in sorrow for the past, he
resolved on giving himself up to the Lord; and, reflecting on his past


life, set about the work of reformation in earnest. He called on
Hermas, paid him his ten pounds and the interest for every day he
had kept it back, went to all the persons to whom he had slandered
him, told them what injustice he had done him, and begged them, if
they had told it to any other persons, to contradict it. Several other
persons whom he had wronged in his dealings with them, he also
visited; and fully redressed all those wrongs against his neighbors.
He also confessed them to the Lord, and asked him to forgive him.
Peccator was then restored to the church, and better still, he enjoyed
a peace of mind and a confidence in God, which was a continual feast.
His example, moreover, did more to enlarge fbe congregation at the
Cross-roads, than did the preaching of Paulinas in a whole year. This
was unequivocally sincere repentance.

This is the repentance which Moses preached, and which Jesus
approbated. Under the law, confession to the priest, and the present-
ing of a trespass offering, availed nothing to forgiveness without resti-
tution. As the theory of repentance is much lost sight of in this our
degenerate age, and as the practice is still more rare, we think it not
amiss to be still more explicit on this topic. We shall therefore hear
the law and the gospel both on this subject.

In Leviticus, chap. vi. 1-7, we have the word of the Lord upon
this subject: — "And the Lord spake to Moses, saying, If a soul sin.
and commit a trespass against the Lord, and lie to his neighbor in
that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, {i. e., dealing,)
or in a thing taken away by violence, or has deceived his neighbor;
or have found that which was lost and lies concerning it, and swears
falsely; in any of these that a man does, sinning therein: then it
shall be because he has sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that
which he took violently away, or the thing which he has deceitfully

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 53 of 70)